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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Lineup decisions coming at RB, WR



Here's something the Bucs will ponder over the next several days before they return to work on Monday: with running back Michael Pittman and receiver Michael Clayton returning from their respective ankle injuries next week, how will the Bucs work them back into the lineup given how well their replacements have played?

In the case of Pittman, the Bucs have to decide whether to keep Earnest Graham in the lineup or go with Pittman, who was in the starting lineup when he was injured at Indianapolis. Graham has since found his groove. He rushed fr 124 yards against Arizona last Sunday. Maybe the Bucs will just insert Pittman as a third-down back initially, but coach Jon Gruden tells us they definitely intend to find a role for Pittman immediately.

At receiver, Clayton returns after injuring his ankle at Detroit three weeks ago. Now, the question is who will be the No. 3 receiver: Clayton or Maurice Stovall, who seemed to be emerging in Clayton's absence. Remember, unlike at running back, where both Pittman and Graham can share the workload to some extent, the difference between the No. 3 and 4 receivers is huge. The Bucs only use a handful of three-receiver sets, and the next time I see them in a four-receiver set might be the first time.

So, whoever slides to No. 4 will be basically chained to the bench. Shame of it is that Clayton was starting to come on strong when he was injured, even though he has a long way to go to make up for his shortcomings of the past 2 1/2 years. Stovall has some great potential, but he's still a little raw.

Of course, none of this is a big deal in the big scheme of things. It's actually a good problem to have to choose between two capable players at one position. Hard to say how either will turn out, but it's one of the questions will be seeking to answer when practice resumes on Monday.

In the meantime, I'm gonna get some rest. Been at this since July 27, when training camp started. Think this might be my first weekend off. If you don't hear from me, it's not personal.

See ya soon.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:52pm]


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